Red Sox: Alex Cora faces same obstacles of all managers

SAN FRANCISCO - MAY 16: Alex Cora /

The Boston Red Sox hired Alex Cora to provide clubhouse leadership.  I thought that was why they hired John Farrell? And Bobby Valentine? And Terry Francona?

John Farrell is gone and his exit speech to the media for public distribution took the high road – too bad the same is not reflected in the Boston Red Sox ownership.

The insinuation was Farrell had lost control and a new Nurse Ratched is needed in the asylum. If I recall the incidents of the Farrell reign were rather limited. Every team will most certainly have someone make an arse of themselves and during the last five years, they were minimal.

"“I am grateful to an ownership group that gave me such a unique opportunity, and one that shared my desire to bring World Series championships to this great city. They supported me through a challenging and scary period in my own life, and I remain forever indebted.” – John Farrell"

Is providing leadership defined as a reprimand in public or private of an outspoken star? If that is one criterion the Red Sox would have an almost daily confrontation with Ted Williams. The petulant Williams had an extensive track record of being as outspoken as possible.

"“In Alex we have found a natural leader to guide our clubhouse” – John Henry"

Farrell takes the most significant hit – being fired – over the L’affaire David Price. Ownership did little over this and Price’s notably clubhouse rant, but someone must fall on the sword of a media-inspired public outrage. So that becomes a question of competency.

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The Red Sox clubhouse is being presented as some type of toxic environment that needs EPA intervention and not a change in managers. In two seasons Farrell won division titles, but, alas, a quick playoff exit does not bode well for continued employment.

In 2017, Farrell did a commendable job keeping a team battered by injuries and being hotly pursued by rivals from collapsing. The reality is there is no shame in losing to Houston which is the superior team on paper and in the field. What certainly surprised me is baseball crunch time in the last few months of the season when Boston compiled a 35-19 record for August and September.

The Red Sox were doing this with a depleted offense that was not bolstered by management with the necessary big bat. Trades were made that have pitchers going to the disabled list and not the field, but you much find someone to sacrifice and that means your manager. And you compound it by statements questioning his ability at leadership.

"“As we look forward to building the next team, we felt like to truly have a fresh start and provide some momentum moving forward, and a jolt to our offseason and next year, we needed to make a change in the manager’s office and start anew there.” – Ben Cherington on Bobby Valentine"

This ownership had a very similar approach to the quasi-dismissal of Terry Francona and the breakdown of his leadership – beer and chicken – and that resulted in Bobby Valentine and a real issue of leadership. So, they traded for a leader in Farrell who is dismissed for a new leader in Alex Cora. Cora will eventually be fired as they search for a leader.

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Do the players even care about this nonsense? Do they come to work each day in such a sour mood that they will just slumber around like a casting call for the Walking Dead? If someone dislikes someone else does that carry over to the field? If Price decides to make a fool of himself does that mean Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, and Andrew Benintendi will follow?

Baseball history is loaded with teams that had internal personality clashes that Gandhi could not solve but still managed to succeed as a group. Just think of the Oakland A’s of the 1970s. What it all comes down to is simple – you screw around you are tossing away money.

"The more things change, the more they stay the same. – French saying"

I may certainly go against the emotional grain on Farrell – a manager I had personally fired with several articles, but he seemed to create a clubhouse that was quite solid by baseball standards. That – being a leader – was often mention as Farrell’s strong selling point. No more, apparently.

Farrell’s problem was not having an immediate response to the mob mentality over Price. That certainly got the lynch mob in motion and would give some tangible substance for canning Farrell. After all, Farrell was a holdover from the previous administration and the new GM’s or whatever extended title ownership bestows, like to have “their guy” in charge. Imagine the possible frustration of Dave Dombrowski if the Red Sox had advanced to the World Series?

Cora will have “clubhouse issues” and Cora has seen them in his baseball career and how different managers handled brooding player’s, a pound of flesh media, and the media inspired fans calling for action that simply cannot happen. Then the search will begin for “leadership” to provide “clubhouse stability.”

Next: Five Red Sox question marks for the 2018 season

A baseball axiom is “managers are hired to be fired” and Cora will be fired. In the meantime, I wish Cora well on this next phase of his baseball life. Cora has all the prerequisites for taking on this position and – most notably – not being a novice in the Boston baseball market. Maybe ownership will give Cora with the necessary on the field tools to be a success?